I have grown up in a life of insanity. My mom was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was seven years old but symptoms started far earlier. When a parent suffers from a mental illness, the fear the child suffers is unique. From the time I was seven until today it has always been there, a steady hum at the back of my head. The fear that with one wrong move, one word too harsh, my mom could die by her own hand never leaves me. It influences everything I do.
Today was a bad day. My mom desperately wanted to leave the house, but her back didn’t allow for it. I watched her go from disappointed to sad to angry as night drew closer. Suddenly it was eight o’clock, I was sitting in the middle room and my mom went to her room, turned around, said a emotionless goodnight and closed her door. She didn’t wait for me to get the ice machine ready that she uses every night ready. She didn’t wait for me to tell her I would have my phone on if she needed me over the course of the night. She just closed the door. My sister immediately noticed the anomaly and went into my mother’s room to enquire if she needed ice and that’s when things officially started falling apart.
Eventually the fight the ensued with my mother and sister drew me in and, like most fights with my mother I can’t pin the plot down in my head. I do, however, know how it ended. It ended with me, blank faced and exhausted, offering my own emotionless goodnight. It ended without resolution. It ended with my sister looking abandoned at my retreat and my mother not caring. It ended with my failing to fix things. It ended with me wondering if my actions were going to result in my finding my mother’s corpse in the morning.
When a parent suffers from a mental illness, the symptoms may be invisible, but suicide is their shadow. It is ever present, growing smaller or larger the worse the symptoms are. Tonight the shadow seems to absorb the whole house, producing a pit in my stomach, an ache in my head and tears behind my eyes, threatening to fall at any moment.